With that said, as if my Photo and Style diaries weren’t enough, I have created a Top 5 list of beaches that I have visited in the Bahamas, as per local recos and prior internet research. Have a scroll and don’t forget to visit the links for further info from businesses and recent travellers (TripAdvisor is a godsent and goes beyond just hotel reviews, with the ‘terrible’ reviews being the most insightful and my personal favourite).
Since Junkanoo beach was only a 7-minute walk from our Airbnb, we made it our stomping ground. Offering nothing short of clear waters, this beach is ideal for two types of people: Spring breakers and those that are, you know, not. The first portion of the beach is the closest to the docked cruise ships and has about 7 different outdoor bars serving the booziest of drinks and the lightest of snacks, hence the attraction of tourists and beach partiers. Now, don’t take that statement as a glass of haterade, as I too remember Cancun, though barely, and my vows to quitting tequila. Every. Single. Morning. Simply put, I am currently at a different stage of life (getting drunk at home in sweatpants is preferred), bringing us to the second part of Junkanoo beach, where the value of complete serenity, close proximity to local dive bars (Fish Fry), and blissful solitary is appreciated. Personally, I found this public beach to be relatively clean, unpopulated (I chuckled when the locals said it was too cold to swim in 29 degree weather), and still close enough to have your conch salad and get white-girl wasted too.
- Visit the first portion of the beach on Sunday afternoon for unforgettable BBQ (think Jerk and long lineups).
- Bring light snorkeling gear (and high SPF) to explore underwater for some sea shells, small fish, and even larger ones (pretty sure I saw a small nurse shark swimming towards me, but NBD).
Even if you aren’t staying on Paradise Island, make Cabbage beach your go-to. It’s another public beach that is incredibly clean, offers more soft sand than rock, and isn’t as crowded as most people lead you to believe. While access to it is free, you will pay $20 USD for two beach chairs and $10 for a one-way cab ride (if you aren’t already staying on Paradise Island). Beach vendors are relatively frequent, but not hostile, offering hair braiding, drinks, and snacks, providing a very resort-style feel to the island. While the water is clear and the different shades of blue are mesmerizing, I find the water to be unforgiving for anyone who isn’t comfortable with large waves (Let me just say that sand will find its way to places you never knew it could). Be sure to leave your reading material behind, as the waves and the unsuspecting sunbathers (Joe included) make one hell of a free show.
- Bring your own booze-filled water bottle, as the drinks (e.g. the coconut beverage) are overpriced and taste terrible (at best), costing you $20 for two (In hindsight, all Tripadvisor reviews mentioned to NOT buy it. I should switch my name to Shedoesntdoherreseachtoo).
- Be mindful of the waves when entering and don’t park your chairs too close due to rough waves and high tides.
- Personally, I found the public beach perfect for Joe and I, but you can purchase access passes to hotel-privatized beaches (e.g. Atlantis) that include food and drink vouchers. Completely up to you, and your budget.
Public beaches were clearly our jam. While Love Beach was probably the smallest one of the beaches listed here, I found it to be the most unique, in its use of empty conchs as to colourfully break the usual blue and white contrast. This beach is much further from downtown Nassau, hinting at it being far less crowd-inviting, spotless in its cleanliness, and much more relaxing, as it is located further from the main road and is closer to the privacy-seeking (and -respecting) wealthy residents. How does one get their significant other to explore random spots, while at the same time convincing them that they love doing it too? With the promise of food, and luckily for Joe this beach had both local food and stiff drinks, with the latter being more fitting for me.
- Local transportation is highly encouraged. While a local informed us that it would be a $30 ride from downtown Nassau, the shameless cab driver tried to charge us $60, and we said f*ck it and took a $2/p bus ride instead (Confirm price before you get on the bus). No regrets. Most scenic route to date.
Pink Sand Beach
Welcome to Harbour island, where golf carts have replaced cars, the purchase of planes is discussed over breakfast, and gingerbread-like houses run you $5 mil, minimum. Sounds like a dream? The Pink Sand Beach is too, as it runs as far as the eye can see, is clean and not overcrowded, and has natural pastel pink sands (Yes, it is a light pink and more so in the water, but no, it is not the saturated pink hue that most of the internet has falsely advertised). Regardless of your expectations, this beach makes the list of the world’s best beaches, as well as my personal one, for a reason. Most importantly, while a tourist favourite, I find it refreshing that the island has not lost its small-town charm, as well as its Bahamian culture and history.
- Flight, as opposed to a ferry, from Nassau to Eleuthera is highly recommended. Compare this: 3.5 hour ferry for $150 USD/p (sea sickness included) + a potential detour involving 1 land taxi and 2 water taxis in case the ocean waters are rough (just out luck), leaving only a 2.5 hour window to enjoy the island VS. a half hour flight at around $180/p + a $5/p water taxi without any of the headaches. Click here for ferry info and here for flights.
- Looking back now, I would definitely spend a couple of nights at a boutique hotel or a B&B, as to properly soak in the island culture, fresh seafood, and crystal clear waters.
- You will be given the opportunity to rent a golf cart for $60 at the dock, but since we were going in blind and didn’t bother to get a map (or a plan, for that matter), we took advantage of the tour + golf cart rental (same price), where we learned a bit of history and facts about the island (e.g only one doctor for the island population of 1,762, etc.).
Yes, that isn’t a beach, but more so a district of Bahamas made up of 365 islands, known as cays. The reason why I didn’t name a specific beach as part of this list is because you cannot go wrong with any of them. Think white sands, crystal clear waters, undisturbed marine life, unlimited sandbars, and shades of blue that cannot even be categorized (I can vividly remember sitting beside Joe on Sandy’s boat in silence for about 20 minutes, completely speechless, trying to absorb the natural beauty of it all). During our one-day visit to the Exumas, we swam with the Swimming Pigs on Big Major Cay, visited the nurse sharks on Compass Cay ($10/p), ate lunch at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club (grilled Mahi Mahi is recommended), and stopped along the way to observe sting rays half the size of the boat, stroll the sandbars, and enviously sigh at the sight of the “private beach” signs and the mansions that followed them.
- Less so a tip, more so a reality check: The Bahamas, let alone Exumas, ain’t cheap. While Joe and I got beyond lucky with the help of our Airbnb host, Selena, our flight + private tour cost the same as a speed boat from Nassau + sharing your experience with 10-20 other tourists, yet I still contemplated selling my liver on the black market (at least twice). All jokes aside, there is nothing in the world that can even compare to our experience in the Exumas, but be prepared to spend $400 USD/p.
- Flying, yet again, is highly recommended, with Flamingo Air being the preferred choice. Forget the hectic Pearson, expect to leave on island time, with our flight scheduled for 6:30 a.m., we only left at 6:50. Not mad, just envious of the stress-free lifestyle.
- Access to a boat (even to the smallest one) is preferred. Sounds pretentious, but is true if you were to stay on any of the Exuma islands and to really experience even a fraction of the district. This can be done so via renting a cottage that comes with a boat that is part of the rental rate (though I can imagine the cost), take advantage of the local taxis (i.e. locals with boats that can transport you from point A to point B), and rent a boat for the week (~$1,300).
- Do not pick the piggies up, even if its just to pose for pictures. It’s unnecessary and they let out heart-breaking squeals. And if you just can’t resist, I will not feel bad for you if you get bit, just saying.
So, clearly, details are my thing, but so is curating lists and travel information that others can use to decide what is and isn’t for them, form realistic budget and travel expectations, and create their own unforgettable world travels. With that said, I hope you have enjoyed this travel post and will some day make beach-hopping the Bahamian islands your priority.
Lastly, if you have any beach recommendations of your own or some really good money-saving hacks to get the most of the trip, please share below.